Support BARCS

Now, with a click of your mouse you can support BARCS and help the animals of Baltimore City find new homes.


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How long has BARCS been in existence, and why was it created?

BARCS was created as a non-profit in 2005 to take over operations of the Baltimore City Shelter previously operated by the city’s Bureau of Animal Control. The move came as a result of public pressure to make changes to operations of the shelter in order to provide better care for animals. Although the non-profit status took effect in 2005, it took two more years to transition from a union-organized staff to our non-profit staff, and to build a strong public board of directors.

Is BARCS a 501c3 and, if so, where does your funding come from?

Yes, BARCS is a 501c3 organization. The budget for FY15 is $2,916,354. This funding consists of a grant from the City for $1,182,265 (41% of the budget), and the rest comes from public donations and fees from adoptions.

What is BARCS' mission?

The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc (BARCS) is a nonprofit shelter that accepts and cares for all animals in need and promotes responsible pet ownership for a more humane community in Baltimore City.

What is BARCS' relationship with Baltimore's Bureau of Animal Control?

We work out of the same building as Animal Control. Animal Control is responsible for Health Code enforcement (complaints, compliance with laws, etc), and investigating animal neglect, cruelty and animal bite cases. BARCS is responsible for all shelter operations and programs, including: housing and care for shelter animals; lost and found; pet licenses; adoptions; volunteer; foster; rescue; and low-cost vaccination and microchip clinics. Once Animal Control brings an animal to the shelter, BARCS assumes responsibility for the care of that animal. BARCS also houses and cares for animals held for hearings and investigations.

What was the first priority at the shelter once it went non-profit?

Our first focus was changing the culture in order to make saving the lives of animals our priority.

What changes were made to the shelter to promote the new mission?

We implemented new procedures, policies and protocols. We hired new staff members, and made physical improvements to the facility. The shelter was in need of major repairs and upgrades. We replaced broken cages, fixed lighting, painted walls, and repaired the floors, just to name a few. We created a volunteer program. We knew we were going to need support from the community in order to really be able to make a strong initial impact. We implemented a new adoption program, formed partnerships with rescue groups, began a foster program, created the “Franky Fund” to treat animals injured on arrival, created the "Medial Fund" to treat shelter animals, provide medications, vaccinations, and spay neuter, and much more. We immediately began programs that would help us to save lives and decrease the number of animals coming in.

What were some of your initial goals, besides saving lives?

One goal was to perform all spay and neuter surgeries on site for our adoption animals, and another was to hire a veterinarian. We hired the shelter’s first vet in 2007, and built a new surgery room in 2008.

How many animals does BARCS care for?

Some quick numbers:

  • There are roughly 300 animals living at BARCS daily.
  • Approximately 500 additional animals are in foster care.
  • BARCS receives an average of 33 new animals every day.
  • Our total intake each year is over 12,000 animals.
  • In 2013, BARCS received 4,754 dogs, 6,872 cats, and 775 other types of animals.


How many people work at BARCS and what do they do?

BARCS has more than 70 employees spanning over a dozen departments:

  • Customer service employees work with people surrendering and redeeming their pets, and handle all transactions — from approving adoptions to issuing pet licenses, and managing our social media presence.
  • Animal care employees provide care for the animals and help adopters find their new or lost companions.
  • Medical staff members evaluate, vaccinate, spay/neuter and provide medical care to our homeless animals.
  • Program staff members manage our adoption, foster, rescue, community and volunteer programs.


Are you fully staffed now?

No. We have a long way to go until we are fully staffed. The staff members we do have work very hard, and each and every one plays the role of several workers in a typical shelter environment. With additional staff, we would be able to implement additional programs and improve current programs. While our employees are extremely dedicated to their work, the demand of caring for so many animals sometimes makes it feel like a crisis environment. To work at BARCS, you have to be willing to multitask, and to be on your toes at all times, working hard and fast to save lives. Each year we hope to raise enough money to add additional staff.

Does BARCS depend on volunteers?

Absolutely! Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. In 2013, more than 400 volunteers logged over 38,000 hours on behalf of BARCS and the animals! We are grateful for our dedicated volunteers. They help in all areas of the shelter, including doing laundry, walking dogs, socializing cats, assisting with events, placing animals in new homes, surgery, fundraising, and much, much more! We need more volunteers so it you want to help, come volunteer!

It looks like BARCS only has pit bulls for adoption. Is that true?

No. BARCS gets mix breeds and purebreds of all kinds in the shelter throughout the year. It sometimes seem like there are only pit bull type dogs here because many other breeds get adopted more quickly; often the same day they arrive. Also, our partner rescue groups tend to take other breeds more regularly. Allowing rescues to select the animals they want for their programs helps us to save more lives by making room for pets that may be harder to adopt. Pit bull type dogs are really great dogs, but sadly they have been poorly portrayed by the media. We suggest to the public that if they want a specific size or breed of dog they should come to the shelter frequently so they get the “pick of the litter.” We adopt on a “first-come, first-served” basis so we can place animals as quickly as possible. This allows us faster turnover of space for the high volume of animals that come to our shelter on a daily basis.

Are you trying to be a "no-kill" shelter?

This terminology can be very confusing to the public. Shelters use these words in different ways. To be clear and open, BARCS’ goal is to have no healthy or treatable animals euthanized in Baltimore, regardless of breed or age. We are the largest companion animal shelter in Maryland, so this is a lofty goal; however, each year we continue to see an increase in the number of lives we save. In 2016, our save rate (positive outcomes) was 88% for all animals in our care. With continued community support and that of our partnering rescue organizations, we are confident we can reach our goal.

What is BARCS' greatest accomplishment so far?

Since our inception in 2005, we increased the number of lives saved annually at the shelter from 240 (when the shelter was City run) to over 9,000 animals in 2016. You can find all of our most recent data and statistics in our Annual Report.

How can I help?

There are several ways to help.

  • BARCS accepts tax-deductible monetary donations to help care for the animals. The highest costs in our annual operating budget other than salaries are medical care (vaccinations, antibiotics, preventatives, spay/neuter surgeries, etc), cleaning and care supplies, and food.
  • You can help by collecting donations of towels, toys, food, and other wish list supplies. These are listed on our website and facebook pages.
  • We are always looking for more volunteers in all areas of the shelter. The only way we are going to solve animal homelessness in Baltimore is by working together.
  • You can support the shelter by adopting an animal in need or fostering one in your home until it is adopted.
  • You can help by making sure your pets, your friend’s pets, your family’s pets and so on are all spayed and neutered, vaccinated, wearing identification, treated humanely, and kept as part of the family, for life.